Welcome to Pacifying the Masses, where we explore the crazy fun balance (or attempt at finding one) of work and play and kids. Our only requirement? You have to be rad, and you have to have a cool job. Yes, this is completely subjective. But that, my friends, is life.
Our first guest in the hot seat is Michael Kahn. This dude is the man. He’s paid his dues in Hollywood, going all the way back to the first Die Hard flick where he was a second second AD (that’s Assistant Director for those not in the know). Along the way he has worked with the likes of Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis.
A few years back he switched gears and started directing music videos and commercials. He’s worked on set with some folks you may have heard of. Does the name Jennifer Lopez ring a bell?
When I meet him on a commercial set, he is directing a life-size action figure that is hanging from a crane. It is fierce. There are throngs of people on all sides of “New York Street” (aka somewhere in LA). Michael doesn’t break a sweat. He grabs his megaphone and starts directing traffic (literally).
Michael and his beautiful wife, Sabrina, have two extremely active boys at home. How does Michael have the energy to run around all day, and go home and wrestle his boys to sleep at night? (Sabrina, my friends, is equally amazing. She is a pastry chef working on opening a restaurant, but I will save her story for another post. She deserves my full attention!) Rockstars, no?
Michael makes it look easy, but I know that it isn’t. By the way, I dig this family pic of everyone breaking bread, er, matzoh. It’s kind of awesome.
Pacifying the Masses: How has parenting changed your role at work?
Michael Kahn: Having children has definitely changed my life, and for the better. I’ve always taken work seriously, and I still do, but having kids has put work and the moment to moment madness that can sometimes happen in my work, into perspective. I’ve learned that there isn’t anything on set that is as important as my kids, or any of my fellow crew members kids. So we work hard, and we do so safely. The most important thing is that everyone goes home to their families at the end of the day. I’d also add that the perspective shift being what it is, has calmed me down on set and made me a better more thoughtful Assistant Director, and more importantly, a more thoughtful person.
PTM: What’s harder: managing a crew on a shoot with a stuntman dangling from a crane, or putting your boys to sleep?
MK: Both managing a crew and putting the kids to sleep have their “moments.” The big difference is a film crew listens to me. It’s more of a give and take with the kids. I guess the answer to your question is managing a film crew is easier……but getting the kids to sleep is somehow a way greater achievement.
PTM: How do you stay sane with two very adventurous boys at home and a super demanding day job?
MK: It’s not the two adventurous boys and the super demanding day job that test my sanity……its the Brazilian wife.
(love this pic of Michael on the job and his Jack Nicholson shades. Baller status).
PTM: What does Michael Kahn do to relax?
MK: What do I do to relax? That’s a very interesting question. I’m not quite sure how to answer that. Not sure I do relax. I think, instead, that I appreciate.
PTM: Favorite song?
MK: Chava Ballet Sequence from Fiddler on the Roof. It’s beautiful and heartfelt.
Thank you, Michael Kahn, for your thoughtful answers and zen-like calming energy. For some reason, I just can’t imagine you losing your cool, ever. And that’s a good thing. Don’t change.
Know someone Pacifying the Masses should meet? Drop us a line in the comments section below.